Whats in this section?
Whats in this section?
Sources of information on Dementia
The initial point of contact to access care services for those living with Dementia or Alzheimer’s disease is either their GP (for healthcare solutions) or Adult Social Care services (for most other services).
If you’re concerned about persistent forgetfulness – or memory difficulties of a friend or family member, it’s essential to consult a GP. They can undertake an initial examination and then be referred to a memory clinic for further dementia tests.
The types of dementia support available are likely to involve the NHS, Adult Social Care and voluntary agencies. Some examples of dementia services and support for people with Dementia include:
- specialist day centres;
- memory cafes;
- respite or short breaks;
- assistive technology and community alarms;
- home care;
- community equipment;
- extra care, sheltered housing;
- carers’ support groups.
Supporting someone living with Dementia
In this piece you’ll find:
- Why it’s important not to become ‘the carer’ too early
- Planning for the long-term and the care options available
- Ways to help the person with Dementia retain their independence
- Ways to help you manage your responses and reactions
- What simple things you can do to help with their reminiscence
- Where and how you can find help to support yourself
If you know someone worried about their memory, encourage them to visit their GP. The more support you can give someone, the better life with Dementia can be, especially in the early years.
With the proper support, people can live well with Dementia and continue to do the things they enjoy for many years following diagnosis.
Focus on the person’s abilities, not their disabilities. Encourage them to continue with hobbies or interests whenever possible; a good understanding of Dementia will enable you to communicate and support the person better.
What do they need?
When someone is living with Dementia, they need:
- reassurance that they are still valued and that their feelings matter;;
- freedom from as much external stress as possible;
- appropriate activities and stimulation to help them to remain alert and motivated for as long as possible.
A person living with Dementia is not being deliberately difficult. Often their behaviour is an attempt to communicate. Try to put yourself in their place and understand what they are trying to express and how they might be feeling. Understanding someone’s life history can also help to understand what they may be saying.
Activities for people with Dementia
Keeping people living with Dementia occupied and engaged can help them to manage their symptoms. In addition, finding activities they enjoy and can complete is essential to help them feel purpose and accomplishment.
Some activity ideas to try at home:
- Games can be a perfect way to avoid boredom when someone is living with Dementia.
- Specialist Dementia games can include simplified versions of family favourites, like snakes and ladders or scrabble; reminiscence activities that might spark memories or conversations; and easy word search books.
- Crafts like drawing, painting or cutting and sticking can be a great pastime for anyone living with Dementia, no matter how advanced their symptoms. Adult colouring books are widely available, but you can also get more straightforward books that might have more familiar images.
- Depending on the stage of the person’s Dementia, you might want to consider ‘painting with water’ sets. These are sheets of paper that you paint water onto to reveal a colourful image. Some are reusable as, when they dry, the image disappears.
- There are many other craft activities suitable for people with Dementia. Including making collages, activities using different textures, and modelling using playdough or modelling clay.
- There are puzzles designed especially for people with Dementia.
- These usually have between 10 and 70 large pieces that form a traditional puzzle image.
- If your relative enjoys jigsaws, this activity could stimulate them without being too complex to complete. The completed pictures are appropriate for adults and cover many themes.
- Sensory activities can be an incredibly calming pastime for people with Dementia.
- You can buy games that use smells to trigger memories or purchase or make a ‘fiddle muff’ if the person struggles with fidgeting.
- Music is widely recognised as a great way to engage people living with all stages of Dementia. Any music can help, from playing a favourite CD to creating a personalised playlist of songs associated with happy memories.
- If the person with Dementia lives alone, consider a simple radio with very few buttons for ease of use. Even singing a favourite song can be an opportunity to connect.
- If the person with Dementia shows interest, let them carry out tasks around the house. Anything like folding towels to laying the table, or washing up can help them feel a sense of accomplishment and purpose.
- Be prepared that, depending on the level of their symptoms, the individual may not complete the tasks perfectly. Try not to see it as them ‘helping’ you with chores; instead, support them to enjoy the experience.
- Ultimately, when introducing activities, be led by the person with Dementia. Whatever they choose to do should be enjoyable and engaging. What is of interest one day may not be the next.
- Consider how the person with Dementia feels about specific activities and what they may have enjoyed in the past. Try to remember that some people can become frustrated by tasks that require completion if they cannot complete them.
Dementia day centres
- In the earlier stages of Dementia, daycare support can offer vital help.
- A good day opportunity will offer a range of activities and support that enable the person with Dementia to retain skills and remain part of their local community.
- Specialist daycare for people with Dementia should be organised and run with the needs of people with Dementia in mind, aiming to build on their strengths and abilities. Activities will vary but may include outings, entertainment, personal care, meals, hairdressing and support for carers.
- Attendance at day centres can be offered from just a few hours a week to several days.
- Memory Cafés, also known as Dementia Cafés, are another place for those with Alzheimer’s and their carers to go.
- They provide a safe space to socialise, listen to music, play games, enjoy other appropriate activities, and be also an excellent place to exchange information and find support.
Respite care for Dementia
- Spouses, partners and relatives who care for a person with Dementia can have an assessment and may need a break from caring.
- This is known as ‘respite care, ‘ which usually takes the form of a regular short break, anywhere from a few hours a week up to a few weeks. Respite care may be planned or be required in an emergency.
- Regular respite care might involve the person with Dementia attending a day centre or a care worker visiting the person’s home to give the carer a break.
- Suppose the relative caring for a person wishes to go on holiday or cannot care because of illness or an emergency. In that case, a care home or care worker may provide a period of respite care, sometimes in the person’s own home.
Use our Search for Care tool to find respite services that specialise in looking after those with Dementia.
Dementia home care
- People with Dementia may struggle in new environments and may function better and be more content in the familiar surroundings of their own home.
- If homecare is an option, Adult Social Care or the home care provider can assess the person’s needs, and the provider can draw up a support plan. The person with Dementia should participate as fully as possible in the assessment and planning. If they are unable to participate, family members can assist, or an advocate may be required.
- The person with Dementia will respond best to stable care staff who know them well. Care agencies or carers employed directly by the person or their family can provide continuity of care.
- If the person pays privately or receives a direct payment from adult social care to contribute towards their care, they can employ staff to fulfil this need.
Find Dementia Homecare services
Dementia care homes
- According to the Alzheimer’s Society, one-third of people with Dementia live-in care homes, and more than two-thirds of care home residents have dementia or memory problems.
- Having Dementia doesn’t change who the person is; each person with Dementia is a unique individual with their own emotional, physical and social needs and hopes, aspirations and values.
- Meeting these needs with an individually tailored care plan enables the person to experience the best possible quality of life.
- A suitable care home will offer a person-centred approach to Dementia care; this means that each individual’s unique qualities and interests will be identified, understood, and accounted for in any care planning.
- The person with Dementia will have an assessment, and an ongoing personalised care plan agreed across health and social care that identifies a named care coordinator and addresses their individual needs.
- Those with Dementia must also have the opportunity to discuss and make decisions together with their carers about:
- The uses of advance statements
- Advance decisions to refuse treatment
- Lasting Power of Attorney
- Preferred Priorities of Care.
One size doesn’t fit all
Care and support options must be tailored as one size does not fit all. Some options can work well for one individual but prove to be stressful and unsuitable for another person.
What you can do
To help the person with Dementia feel more comfortable in their surroundings, you can:
- Ensure staff can get to know the person with Dementia by telling staff about their likes and dislikes.
- Making sure the individual has belongings that bring comfort and have meaning can also help them settle in.
- Providing life-story books can be a good way of helping the staff and the individual to recall details.
What staff can do
The environment within the home itself is largely down to the attitude and skills of the manager and staff:
- Do they try to enable those with Dementia to exercise choice and personal preferences even in later stages of their condition?
- Who is the person in charge of championing Dementia care best practices in the home?
- Dementia-specific training is needed to ensure care home staff understand how best to support and care for people with Dementia.
The design of a care home specialising in Dementia care should be based on small group living, preferably with accommodation on one level. Opportunities to go in and out of the building should be within a safe and accessible environment.
Plenty of natural light and an easy way of finding one’s way around the building and grounds are essential for minimising disorientation.
People with Dementia sometimes need a helping hand to go about their daily lives and feel included in their community. Dementia Friends is an initiative to change people’s perception of Dementia.
They help people understand Dementia and the small things they can do to make a difference to those with the condition. This can be anything from helping someone find the right bus to spreading the word about Dementia.
Visit www.dementiafriends.org.uk for additional information.